Life is about taking chances. Often, it’s the steps that feel the most unsteady that ultimately lead to the sweetest rewards. No one knows this quite like Joseph Mattox, MD, medical director, Parkview Sports Medicine. Last year, Dr. Mattox walked away from his family medicine practice of 16 years to pursue a new dream; A sports medicine career at Parkview Ortho Express.
Driven by his passion for athletes and the encouragement of his wife, Dawn, Dr. Mattox is forging ahead to offer exceptional care to amateur and professional athletes in northeast Indiana. His enthusiasm and admiration for his patients make him one of the courageous, synergetic, dynamic People of Parkview.
Name: Joseph Mattox, MD
Title: Medical Director, Parkview Sports Medicine
Describe your education and career journey:
Undergraduate: Indiana University School of Business August 1987–May 1991
Graduate: Indiana University School of Medicine August 1994–May 1998
Family Practice Residency: Fort Wayne Medical Education Program July 1998–June 2001
Sports Medicine Fellowship: Orthopedics North East April 2016–April 2017
What inspired you to pursue this profession?
I was initially inspired by my father, Dean Mattox Sr, MD. He was a family physician for more than 40 years, primarily in Angola, IN. Young and rebellious, I first had to prove to him I could do something other than medicine. After a brief career in business with Hitachi Medical Sales, I quickly realized my true calling was medicine.
How did you become involved with Ortho Express?
I provided primary care in northeast Indiana for over 16 years. During that time, I cared for some high school, college and professional teams. I always had a lot of interest in sports. I ran into Michael Ledo at a Parkview Physicians Group quarterly meeting. He mentioned that Parkview Sports Medicine was actively seeking a medical director. I was very excited about the opportunity to help lead the amazing team already forming at PSM. I was recruited by Dr. Al McGee, Dr. John Pritchard, and Dr. Brett Gemlick. ONE provided a sports medicine fellowship to further my training in order to provide the level of care expected at ONE. I am eternally grateful for my education by all the physicians and providers, including specialists in sport, spine, hand, joint, pain and foot/ankle. We in the Fort Wayne area are truly blessed to have the level of care provided by ONE.
This opportunity also came at the same time my family was dealing with significant medical issues of our own. My wife, Dawn, was diagnosed with Usher syndrome. This is a disease, with no known treatment, that affects vision, hearing and balance. Without my wife's support, I could never have pursued this amazing career opportunity. During our discussions, Dawn made it clear that we don’t know what the future holds and if this was something that I wanted, I needed to go for it now. This was coming from the most intelligent human I know, who lost her career as attorney, lost her ability to drive, and lives daily with fear of what her disease will bring the next day. Dawn's resiliency is amazing. I have said many times I know I could never have handled what Dawn is going through with the strength and bravery she has shown.
What do you hope to achieve with Ortho Express?
Access is a huge obstacle in the world of medicine. Ortho Express eliminates that barrier for the patient with musculoskeletal complaint. The clinic provides access to x-ray, casting, physical therapy, nutrition, body composition and performance training all under one roof. Ortho Express provides a unique opportunity for patients. There is nowhere in the area that provides this level of care for musculoskeletal complaints. We have highly trained providers with years of experience in caring for orthopedic concerns, and with direct access to all the physicians at ONE with specialties in sport, spine, hand, foot/ankle, joint and pain.
What do you love about working with athletes?
Athletes are motivated, competitive and have a burning desire to get well in order to get back to their field of play. This provides an excellent patient to deploy all the services provided by PSM to get the athlete back to their pre-injury level of performance.
What is a typical day like for you?
My typical day is clinic in the morning, training rooms or meeting rooms in the afternoon. I provide nonoperative sports medicine. I do everything within my scope of practice to help patients with musculoskeletal issues short of surgery. With the help of my staff, we obtain a comprehensive history, physical, appropriate x-rays and laboratory workup to correctly identify underlying diagnoses for the patient being evaluated. If surgical intervention is indicated, I direct patients to the appropriate surgeon.
Tommy Schoegler, Director of Parkview Sports Medicine, and I form the leadership dyad for Parkview Sports Medicine. Tommy and I complement each other very well. We both have lofty goals for PSM but understand the foundation of PSM must be built on providing excellent care to every patient/athlete. We are constantly striving to improve and keep PSM and the services we provide the best in sports medicine. We provide leadership for the over 100 employees of PSM mostly made up of our incredible team of athletic trainers and physical therapists.
We also work closely with our partner AWP for performance training. AWP provides the highest level of sports-specific performance training in the area. This is key. Once we get an athlete in position to return to sport, AWP then provides that next step in getting the patient/athlete back to their individual level of performance.
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your profession?
Telling an athlete their season is over due to injury.
The most rewarding?
Seeing that athlete persevere through surgery, therapy and performance training to return at or above their pre-injury level.
What was a career-defining moment for you?
I have had two career-defining moments. First was the choice to give up my business career and pursue medicine. Second was the choice to step away from my family practice and join PSM. My position at PSM is a perfect mix of medicine, leadership and sport. It has been just over 18 months in this position and I have no regrets. I look forward to the day everyday.
What is your greatest passion aside from medicine?
Family. Dawn and I have two children. Our daughter, Ella, is 16. She rides horses and plays basketball. Our son, Eli, is 13 and plays basketball and football. Both are excellent students and teammates. We could not be more proud of them. Most of our time is spent at our kids’ athletic events. If we aren’t cheering them on, you’ll find us at the lake in Angola with our extended family. But really, if we aren’t at one of our kids’ sporting events, we’re probably at one of their cousins’ sporting events.
If you could tell people to read one book in their lifetime, which would it be?
What would we find on your bucket list and what do you plan to check off next?
My bucket list is tied to my wife. Dawn has some things that she would like to see prior to the progression of her disease. I want to be there to see her experience these incredible places. Last year we went out west with family to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone and The Grand Canyon. Next year we are off to Alaska!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
From my father, and it has two parts: First, don’t underestimate the power of prayer, and second, with all your training and knowledge, don’t ever take away a person's hope.
Parkview Ortho Express is located at the SportONE /Parkview Fieldhouse, Entrance 2, 3946 Ice WayFort Wayne, IN 46808. Call the Parkview Sports Medicine hotline for more information: (260) 266-4007.
Hours are Monday – Thursday: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Friday: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. – noon
(Hours may be extended due to sporting event schedules.)